Published on February 3, 2022
Taste of Africa Journeys to the Arden Theatre
Over the past two-years holidays abroad have turned into ‘staycations’ and the chance to immerse yourself in the sights and sounds of an overseas culture requires potential travelers to pass a gauntlet of ever-changing regulations. However, this February Helen Agbonison, founder and President of Africans and African Descendant Friendship Club of St. Albert, promises you won’t have to go far to learn about many of the cultures contained in the continent of Africa, thanks to the return of their multidisciplinary arts event, Taste of Africa.
“This event would be an opportunity for you to travel to Africa from St. Albert,” says Agbonison. “Because with COVID and things that have been happening, everybody is indoors. They've not really traveled, but, just within St. Albert, you could actually experience Africa.”
Hosted at the Arden Theatre, the variety show will feature dance, drumming, storytelling, poetry and more. Traditional dress will be featured in a fashion show and after the performances wrap, audience members will be treated to a literal taste of Africa, with samplings of traditional food packaged in to-go boxes.
Those who have attended previous events can be assured that they’ll be introduced to the dance and stories of different countries than have been featured in the past.
“The style of Taste of Africa is we make it a high and a low, a high and a low—that's how we always engage people,” says Agbonison, explaining that the high-energy excitement of, for example, the drum performances, will be interspersed around the more thought-provoking aspects, like poetry.
New this year, the youngest members of the African Friendship Clue will be taking center stage in a variety of roles.
“Our children are going to be dancing and the storytelling will be children from our community telling the stories that they have been told, like folk tales—stories from home,” says Agbonison. “In the past, we used to have professional storytellers telling us their stories that they have created. But this time it will be native stories that have been passed down.”
Passing down stories and traditions is a key component of Agbonison’s motivation in establishing the African Friendship Club in the first place. Recognizing that St. Albert is now what she cheerfully calls her ‘forever home,’ she set about looking for ways to preserve her heritage in a manner that would expand beyond just teaching her children.
“When you teach a larger number of people or talk to it, it helps to preserve [our heritage] in the community,” she explains. “So that is how I thought about creating the Africans and African Descendant Friendship Club. When we come together, we are able to create something more lasting and make our kids proud of this culture, because they're all Canadians now, right? They will end up not knowing these things and they will not know about other people.
“When we come together, we are able to create something—each person is able to bring their food and tell the other Africans that, ‘oh, this is what we eat, this is how we eat it, and this is how we dress.’ So as much as we are teaching ourselves, we're teaching our children and preserving that information in our community.”
For the entire community of St. Albert, Taste of Africa is an electrifying and eclectic opportunity to learn and share in the cultural traditions of our neighbours.
“There's fun in trying new things,” says Agbonison. “The more you try, the better you’ll understand. If you don't try, you will never know.”
For tickets, please visit the Arden Theatre’s website.
For more information about the Africans and African Descendant Friendship Club of St. Albert, please visit their website.
Last edited: January 31, 2022